What Does Danish Design Have in Common with Business History?

With a rare sofa from 1935 by the architect Arne Jacobsen, we turn our attention to one of the great success stories in Danish business – the pharmaceutical company Novo.


Arne Jacobsen (1902-71) is best known for his designs from the 1950s, where he delivered one immortal classic after the other from his drawing board, such as the "Ant", “Egg” and "Swan" chairs to name just a few. At this auction, we shed light on his early years as a furniture designer with an extremely rare overstuffed mahogany sofa in patinated natural leather. The sofa has not previously been described in literature and today only two examples are known to exist.

A Modern Factory Plant and a Sofa for the Boss

The sofa dates from 1935 – a decade where Jacobsen designed functionalist buildings such as "Bellevista" in Klampenborg and City Hall in Aarhus. In 1934, he was given the assignment to create a modern factory plant for the Novo Therapeutic Laboratory, which the company was then known as. The location of the plant was at the corner of Fuglebakkevej and Nordre Fasanvej in Copenhagen, and Jacobsen delivered a complete modernistic design of the building where all the architectural details were adapted to the company's needs.

Jacobsen designed the sofa by special order for the building's head offices, which housed the two brothers, pharmacist Thorvald Pedersen and engineer Harald Pedersen. Together, they had founded Novo in 1925, where they oversaw the production of the first Danish-produced insulin and accompanying syringe. Jacobsen had a lifelong professional relationship with Novo and set the agenda for the company’s architectural identity up until his death in 1971.

Previously Unknown Sofa Bench by Hans J. Wegner

Hans J. Wegner is another great star on the firmament of Danish design, and his furniture pieces are well-known guests at our auctions. This time, they come in the form of classics such as "The Chair", the "Flag Halyard Chair", the "JH 512" and the "Buck Chair", but also a hitherto unknown variant of his sofa bench with a beech frame and back and seat of moulded walnut. Wegner designed it for Thisted Hospital in 1948, and for this purpose, he doubled the size of the well-known two-seater version of the sofa bench.

The auction also includes Axel Salto’s sought-after ceramic vases, a large carpet by the Swedish weaver Barbro Nilsson and a private collection of Finn Juhl’s furniture, which includes a fine example of the ”Chieftain Chair”. 


Auction: Tuesday 4 June at 5pm (CET) at Bredgade 33 in Copenhagen

Preview: 23-27 May at the same address

View all the design lots from the auction
Read more about the auction
Read about bidding at the auction


For further information, please contact:

Peter Kjelgaard: +45 8818 1191 · pkj@bruun-rasmussen.dk

Ole Ravn: +45 8818 1192 · olr@bruun-rasmussen.dk

Amalie Hansen: +45 8818 1194 · amh@bruun-rasmussen.dk

Anna Berger Widenborg: +45 8818 1187 · awi@bruun-rasmussen.dk

Andreas Krabbe: +45 8818 1193 · ank@bruun-rasmussen.dk